We will visit Old Jaffa and see the architecture of Tel Aviv’s “White City”, built in the 1920s. Then, we will tour Caesarea Maritime, an ancient Herodian city, with a Roman theater, a hippodrome and a bathhouse. We will follow the Caesarea aqueduct, which was found beneath the sand dunes along the beach. From there, we will travel to the “Muchraka”, a Carmelite monastery, and drive along a scenic route through the Carmel Mountain Reserve. We will stop at Tel Megiddo, a famous archaeological mound and the site of biblical Armageddon, to explore the 3000-year-old Israelite water tunnel.
We will visit Akko, a walled Ottoman town, where Crusader-period quarters remained almost intact. During the tour, we will walk atop the city walls, and stride through underground tunnels, knights’ halls and picturesque streets and markets. Later, on Mount Meron (1208 m asl), Israel’s highest hill, we will explore the summit trail, offering spectacular views towards Lebanon, Upper Galilee and the Golan heights. Finally, we will visit Safed with its ancient synagogues and artists’ quarter.
We will visit the Hula Agamon Reserve, an ancient swamp land and an important stopover for migrating birds on the route between Europe and Africa. From there, we will drive up to the Golan Heights, to the top of Mount Bental, a non-active volcano and the site of an old Israeli army-fortification. Spectacular views to snowcapped Mt. Hermon and Galilee are guaranteed.
Then we will enjoy a cool Kayak adventure on the Jordan river, visit the Banias National park, the site of ancient Caesarea Philippi and one of the sources of the Jordan river, and hike from the Banias spring to the waterfall and the hanging bridge.
We will hike along part of Jesus’ Trail, from the top of Mt. Arbel to a fresh water spring. Then we will visit the northern shore of Lake Galilee, the cradle of Christianity, where historical sites, such as Capernaum, Khorazim and Bethsaida, attest to spiritual events. Later on, we will walk through Kibbutz En Gev, to learn about the communal life style of the early pioneers and how it evolved into modern times, and visit the Gamla Nature Reserve, one of the largest vulture colonies in Israel. Finally, we will descend towards the southern tip of Lake Galilee, travelling on a spectacular road overlooking the Jordan Valley and the Yarmuk River.
We will visit Bet Shean, the “Pompeii of Israel”, with a biblical tell and ancient Roman and Byzantine cities. Time to swim in Gan Hashlosha, a natural spring at the foot of the Gilboa Mountains. Then, we will drive through the Jordan Valley and visit Qasr al-Yehud, the baptismal site of John the Baptist on the bank of the Jordan River, and visit Tel Jericho to overlook Mount Nebo and the Quarantal monastery. Finally, we will continue to Jerusalem for an overview of the Old city from the Mount of Olives.
We will walk from the Mount of Olives down to the Kidron Valley, visit the Tomb of the Prophets and Dominus Flevit. We will enter the Old City through Jaffa Gate, walk along the Old City walls’ promenade and visit the various quarters of the Old City. Then we will tour the archaeological park south of the Temple Mount, ending the day at the Western Wall.
We will visit Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, with its impressive historical museum. Then we will visit the Israel museum: the Dead Sea Scrolls, the scale model of ancient, first-century Jerusalem and the exhibition of Herod the Great’s desert mausoleum at Herodion. We will spend the rest of the afternoon exploring colorful Mahane Yehuda market on Jaffa street and its surrounding quarters.
We will visit the Byzantine Monastery of St. George, built against a cliff in Wadi Kelt—a limestone canyon in the Judean desert. Then we will hike through the Ein Gedi National Park, the largest oasis in the Negev, featuring fresh-water springs and a jungle-like scenery. From there, we will climb by cable car to the hilltop of Masada, and tour Herod the Great’s palaces and fortress, which was used by the Jewish rebels in their struggle against the Romans. We will return to the car by cable car or walk down the Snake Path, and end the day floating on the Dead Sea.
Overnight: Dead Sea area
An outstanding jeep ride will take us through the rugged Negev desert, along the Incense Route, an ancient caravan route for transporting frankincense and myrrh. It stretches along 2000 km, from Yemen and Aman via Petra to the Mediterranean ports. We will explore the magical landscape of the Ramon Crater National Park, a unique geological phenomenon, and visit the Ein Saharonim khan (Nabatean Camel station) and spring.
Overnight: Mitspe Ramon.
At kibbutz Sde Boker we will visit the museum-house of David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister and one of the founding fathers of the state. Then we will tour the nearby Nabatean city of Avdat, with its ancient run-off agriculture, Byzantine winepresses and some of the oldest churches in the country. From there we will hike through Nahal Hawarim to the white-chalk canyon of Ein Avdat, and climb the trail to the top of the white cliffs.
Overnight: Tel Aviv